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College can be a scary time. You go to a completely new place with new surroundings and people that you have never met. I went to college only an hour away from my hometown, and it was so much different than what I expected. There are so many things I wish I knew before I went. Without further ado, here are some of those things I wish I knew before going into my freshman year.

Don’t bring all your wardrobe, but bring some items for each season.

Ohio weather is completely unpredictable. There can be snow one minute and sunny skies the next. I would recommend bringing clothing items from each season. Move-in is in the fall, but bring all types of clothes. Bring some shorts, pants, t-shirts, hoodies, etc. You never know when it'll decide to go from 60 to 90 degrees in one day. 

 Invest in a winter coat before the first snowfall.

In high school, no one wore actual winter coats. We had hoodies or North Face jackets and called it a day. That doesn’t work in college, especially if there's a snowstorm and your class is a 15-minute walk. It may seem excessive, but trust me, you’ll thank me later. I regret not having a winter coat when I was freezing. Layering didn’t work in this case. Along with this, bring gloves, hats and scarves!

You don’t need to only have friends in your major.

I lived in my college’s community dorms during my first semester and this helped me become friends with people in my major. However, I didn’t make friends outside of my major until I started my job on campus. Having friends in your major is great, but branching out can help you down the line. You don’t want to be stuck with one group of people. You want to meet everyone, that way when you take non-major classes, you could know someone. 

Confront problems right when they happen or they will grow.

I’ll admit, I have had my fair share of disagreements with people. What I regret not doing is fixing them sooner. It happened multiple times where the problem could be avoided at the time it happened, and then later turned into something bigger than what it started as. Confrontation can be scary, but losing a friendship over something small and stupid is scarier.

 Express yourself more.

I can promise you, no one at college cares what you wear or what you do. Go out and be you. You’re away from everyone you grew up with and everyone you knew. Reinvent yourself and be the you that you want to be. You can be the true you and no one can control it. If you don't like it, you can always try other styles and looks. I dyed my hair purple multiple times and I do not regret a second of it. Dye your hair or change up your wardrobe. What you choose to do is up to you. Just don't be scared to try out a new look!

Check in with friends back at home.

You’re in a new place with new people and that can be exciting and scary. Don’t forget your friends from back home; you don’t want to lose them. They can be making new friends too, but if they are true friends, they will talk to you as well. You don’t want to lose old friends for new ones. Also, when you go home, you will want people to see so you are not alone. Make sure you check in with them and see them on breaks.

Not every person you meet will be your friend.

There is a phrase that describes people at college well, which is "surface level." You will find true friends at college and then you will find "surface-level" ones. They are the ones who are around on and off but aren’t truly there. You’ll experience these, but don’t let them take over your life. You don’t need everyone to like you. You truly just need a good group of friends to make things better.

Go to the events held on campus.

One of my biggest regrets is not going to more events. I went to about four of them during my freshman year including seeing David Dobrik, watching a magician, playing bingo, and a going to a showing of the live-action Aladdin. Two of these were the first week and that’s the only reason I went. I truly regret not going to more events. You can win prizes and even if you don't, you're still putting yourself out there. Not only will you meet more people, but almost all the events are free!

You and your roommate will not always get along.

I had a bad roommate during my freshman year that ended badly. If it happens to you too, it’s okay! It is pretty common for people to not have the best roommate experiences their first year. You're sharing a small space with someone you barely know. So, make sure there is good communication and rules are in place with your roommate to avoid any altercations. If they do arise, do not push them aside, as stated in number four. It will only make the living space hostile and worse. The last thing you want is the person you live with not getting along with you.

Get a shower schedule.

In my freshman year, we had a pod-like bathroom that we shared with half of the floor. This results in about 40 people using the same bathroom with only about four showers. Figure out when the bathroom is busy and when it is slow. This may cause you to switch up your routine, but in the long run, you will thank yourself. The worst is being tired and going to shower and all the showers are taken. Also, invest in a shower caddy. That way you don't have to juggle carrying all your items to and from the facility. Organization is an amazing thing.

The dining hall food is your best friend.

You may not like the dining hall food, but it is the option that is already included in your tuition. You may want to splurge and get Insomnia one night or Hungry Howie’s another. Do not get in the habit of ordering take out or delivery. You may think it doesn’t add up, but getting food 3-5 times a week can cost a lot of money that you could use for other things. Treat yourself on occasion, but don’t make it a daily thing. Also, going to the dining hall may be the only time you get out of bed. Don’t pass that up.

Get a consistent sleep schedule.

During my first year, I never had a consistent sleep schedule. This caused me to take a lot of naps and stay up late to finish assignments. I would regularly go to bed between 3-5 a.m. because I would nap during the day and throw everything off. This caused me to sleep through plans and events because of trying to catch up on sleep. Having an occasional late night isn’t a bad thing, just don’t make it a daily occurence.

Study, study, study!

In high school, you may not have had to study to pass, but college is a whole different story. I didn’t realize this until I failed my first test. Section off certain times to study, specifically not before the day of the test. Study the material on and off from when you get it. This way, you are not trying to remember everything at once. If your GPA slips, you can lose scholarships and even opportunities. Take it from me, make time to study with zero distractions. 

College can be a scary and tough thing to transition to. But, if you follow these things that I wish I knew, it will be a smoother transition.

Alexandra Golden

Kent State '23

Alexandra is a junior journalism major with a minor in criminology and justice studies. She wants to pursue a career in investigative journalism or in magazine writing when she graduates.
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